Becoming a certified financial planner™ is something you might consider if you’d like to expand your business services and attract new clients. Incorporating CFP® marks into your marketing and promotional materials can lend credibility to your brand. However, there are strict rules that govern when and how you can use them.
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What Are CFP Marks?
CFP® marks identify individuals who hold a financial planner certification. These marks are owned by the CFP Board, which sets and enforces the requirements to become a certified financial planner.
The marks are protected by U.S. trademark law and their use indicates that an individual has:
- Met the CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements
- Agreed to adhere to the CFP Board’s standards governing professional competency and ethics
To get certified as a financial planner, you must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, complete required coursework in financial planning through a CFP Board Registered Program and pass the CFP exam. Certified financial planners are required to meet continuing education requirements, including courses in ethics.
Who Can Use CFP Marks?
The CFP Board bars anyone from using certification marks until they’ve met the necessary requirements to obtain a CFP® designation. Once you’ve done so, the CFP Board will notify you when you can begin using the marks.
If you’ve registered for the CFP exam or recently passed it, you can refer to yourself in these ways:
- As a candidate for CFP certification
- Working towards obtaining CFP certification
The CFP Board takes the unauthorized use of the marks seriously. Using the marks without the CFP Board’s permission could result in having your right to use the marks revoked.
Rules for Using Certification Marks
The CFP Board has detailed rules for the use of certification marks. These rules detail when the marks can be used and what form they must take.
Here’s a breakdown of the rules for each one:
This is the first mark you can use when denoting your status as a certified financial planner. To use this mark properly, you must:
- Always use capital letters
- Never use periods
- Always include the ® symbol
- Always use the mark with a CFP Board-approved noun when the mark does not follow the name of the certified individual
The mark is used only for individuals, not companies or groups. Approved nouns include certificant, professional, practitioner, certification, mark and exam.
- Example of proper use: Jane Smith is a CFP® certificant.
- Example of improper use: Jane Smith is a CFP®.
There are also rules for using the CFP® mark logo. If you plan to incorporate the artwork into your marketing materials, you must:
- Always reproduce the logo from the original artwork
- Always associate the logo with the individual that’s certified by the CFP Board
- Maintain a minimum size of 0.5 in print or 50 px on screen
- Maintain clear space around the mark to ensure that it’s legible
You cannot alter or modify the logo in any way. That includes hand-drawn and digital reproductions or any design that distorts the original image. You can log in to the CFP Board website once you’re certified to download the original artwork for use in your marketing materials.
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ mark
To use this mark, you must:
- Use all capital letters or small cap font
- Include the ™ symbol
- Use a Board-approved noun when the mark does not immediately follow the certified individual’s name
The CFP Board doesn’t allow the CFP® mark to be used as a parenthetical abbreviation for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ mark, and vice versa. Note that the CFP Board strictly prohibits you from using either of the CFP® marks in domain names, URLs or email addresses.
- Example of proper use: Jane Smith is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.
- Example of improper use: Jane Smith is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional.
There are additional rules for using the CFP Board’s legal tagline when using certification marks on your website or in your marketing and promotional materials. The full tagline looks like this:
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification mark, and the CFP® certification mark (with plaque design) logo in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.
There’s a shorter tagline that you can use when you can’t add the full tagline due to space restrictions. That tagline reads as follows:
“CFP Board owns the marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, and CFP® (with plaque design) in the U.S.”
Using CFP Marks to Market Your Advisory Business
There are different ways that you can incorporate CFP® marks into your marketing and promotions. Here are some suggestions if you need ideas for how to leverage the marks to advertise your brand:
- Add the marks to your business cards or letterhead
- Send out a press release announcing your achievement that includes the approved logo
- Create a public profile on the Let’s Make a Plan website which is run by the CFP Board
- Obtain a digital certificate from the CFP Board that you can share on LinkedIn, embed to your website or add to your email signature
- Mount physical copies of your certificate in your office for prospective and current clients to see
You may need to spend some time updating your marketing materials, but it can be well worth it if you’re able to generate new leads or gain more referrals. Prospective clients may be more inclined to work with an advisor or financial planner who holds a board certification.
Why? Simply because being certified indicates that you’re knowledgeable about financial planning and are a professional who adheres to strict ethical standards. If you’re having trouble connecting with clients, becoming a certified financial planner could give your business a much-needed boost.
CFP® marks serve a very specific purpose, in that they help to identify individuals who have completed the rigorous requirements to become certified financial planners. Knowing when and how you can use these marks is crucial for ensuring that you’re compliant with CFP Board rules.
Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business
- Having an online presence is essential in the digital age, as investors increasingly turn to online search to connect with financial professionals. A professional website and social media accounts can help boost your visibility, but you might consider using a lead generation tool to get more eyes on your brand. SmartAdvisor, for instance, helps you connect with leads so that you’re free to focus more of your time on serving your clients.
- In addition to online marketing tactics, you might consider taking an old-school approach and using direct mail marketing to reach out to current or prospective clients. While direct mail might seem dated, it can be an effective way to connect with people who either don’t spend a lot of time online or are prone to leaving marketing emails unopened and unread. If you don’t have time to work on building a direct mail marketing campaign, there are companies that can do it for you. That’s just one of the ways you can outsource lead generation to grow your client base.
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